Saturday, 14 February 2015

Proportional Representation Day 2016

While attention is focussed on the general election on 7 May this year, there is an interesting set of elections coming up in May 2016 across the United Kingdom:

Area Election for Voting system
Greater London Mayor of London Supplementary Vote
Greater London Assembly Additional Members System
England (outside of Greater London) Police & Crime Commissioners Supplementary Vote
Wales Police & Crime Commissioners Supplementary Vote
Welsh Assembly Additional Members System
Scotland Scottish Parliament Additional Members System
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Assembly Single Transferable Vote

This will be an unprecedented situation - every voter in the UK will be eligible to vote using a system that is not Single Member Plurality. 86% will be using Supplementary Vote and 25% Additional Members System.

Looking at any recent opinion poll, by 8 May this year we will see that SMP no longer provides the USP that is promoted by its supporters - that of giving a Parliament where one party has over half the seats and forms a Government on its own. To fail to do this once can be explained away as a fluke result, a transitional period, just as if the April 1992 general election had (as polls suggested) given a hung Parliament we would have said that the people were rejecting the Conservatives, but not yet ready to trust Labour.

After this May, it will be clear that the system we have used since the February 1950 general election is broken, and a year later everyone will have experience of using other systems, which will inform the inevitable debate on whether to change the system and what to.

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